Truck accidents are often more serious than collisions which involve only passenger vehicles. Victims are more likely to sustain grave injuries or be killed in truck accidents. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates around 70 percent of the victims who die in fatal truck accidents aren't in the truck but are instead pedestrians, motorcyclists, bikers, or occupants of other cars on the road. Victims who get hurt in truck accidents need to understand what their rights are and how truck accident cases differ from many other types of car accident injury claims.
Federal Rules Make Truck Accident Cases Different
One of the most fundamental things truck accident victims need to understand is how federal regulations, called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) affect their truck accident claim.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations affect their claims, first and foremost, by guaranteeing there is much more insurance coverage available to pay for losses and damages than there would be in a typical car accident case involving two cars only. In Texas, drivers of passenger vehicles have to buy $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in liability coverage. This means if a driver causes a collision and three people get hurt, each person could get up to $30,000 but the total amount which would be paid out to all three victims by the insurance would not exceed $60,000.
In truck accident cases, however, there is much more coverage available. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation no. 387.9 requires at least $750,000 in liability insurance coverage be carried for most typical commercial trucks. If there is a truck which transports hazardous materials, the minimum liability coverage limits could be $5 million.
Obviously, the fact there are insurance limits which are so much higher can make a difference in settlement negotiations. Insurers won't pay out more than policy limits, so victims usually need to take this into account when deciding whether to accept a settlement. Since limits for truck insurers are so much higher, victims can fight more aggressively to make sure they are actually being awarded full compensation. The high limits also make it important for truck accident victims to determine how they can pursue claims for damages not just against drivers, but also against trucking companies.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations affect truck accident cases is another way as well: they can make it easier to prove a case. Typically in a car accident claim, victims have to prove a driver is negligent by showing the motorist acted unreasonably. This can be complicated, especially in situations like a crash caused by drowsy driving where there's not necessarily an objective way to prove drowsiness. When a truck accident occurs, however, there are many federal rules which dictate the behavior of truckers and trucking companies. If a victim can point to a violation of any FMCSRs, this can create a presumption of negligence.